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Friday, February 20, 2015

THAT PRESIDENTIAL MEDIA CHAT (I)




I watched the media chat of the president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan on NTA about a week ago and several things ran through my mind.
People who have looked critically at his presidential campaigns have talked about them resembling presidential complaints. Within the first two minutes, the chat began to look like another complaint session on the state of affairs in Nigeria too. He started by telling Nigerians that the world is going through a phase in history that is fraught with challenges and that Nigeria is not alone. What he did not explain was that in other countries, when there is a challenge, the leader leads by example and not by precept (apologies to Government College, Ibadan alumni).
He went on to describe as worrisome the antics of some people in getting the political office they want. He said we should not destroy Nigeria because you need a country to rule over if you want to rule. I guess he was referring to his opponents there and although it is a valid point he raised, he seemed to be oblivious of the irony in it. 
We have criminals of Niger Delta extraction with whom our president freely associates threatening war against the country if their kinsman, the President, loses the election; regardless of how free and fair the election was. Neither the president nor his spokespersons have issued any disclaimer or a denunciation of these words of treason and brigandage. One wonders whether the thugs were carrying out the president’s wish.
As far I could discern, the media chat was supposed to be an opportunity for the president to douse tension and clear the air on the insinuations that he was buying time through the election postponement. Somehow, Dr Jonathan bungled that opportunity.
When the journalists asked him about the election postponement, he said he saw no big deal in it and likened it to a soccer match that can be rescheduled for another day. That was too puerile to come from a sitting president, and it is sad. Elections are not like football matches; one is a sport, the other determines the course of a people’s future; that is why many die in the process. How can someone think that toying with the dates is not a big deal? How can you give reasons that look and sound untenable and hope people will trust or believe you? Allah has commanded the remittance of trust and has made it unlawful for the leader to betray the people’s trust.
Another question the president answered so poorly was that of the six weeks window that the military requested. Ibrahim Sheme of Blueprint Media asked why Dr Jonathan thinks the security agencies could rout Boko Haram in just 6 weeks. As usual, our president started by exonerating himself and distancing himself from the act. He said he was not consulted on the date change and that he was not the Chief of Defence Staff that wrote the security advisory letter to Jega. I find that disingenuous coming from the man to whom the said CDS reports. 
We should not forget that just a week before the postponement, the same security chiefs gave assurances of their readiness for the elections. After that, the NSA, Colonel Sambo Dasuki, began to execute what, in all honesty, was a well-orchestrated plan to stop INEC from conducting the election as scheduled. Dasuki interfaces with the service chiefs and knows what they know. If they gave their word that they were ready, Dasuki also knew they were ready. Suddenly, at the Council of State meeting, all the service chiefs began to sing a new song, led by the choirmaster, the NSA.
At that meeting as widely reported in the media, the service chiefs and the PDP started pushing for a date change. Jega insisted that not only were they substantially ready, they were better prepared than in 2011. After the meeting, Olusegun Mimiko of the PDP let the cat out of the bag as to what Nigerians should expect when he pitched the outcome of the meeting as being that the INEC should reconsider the dates of the elections. Rochas Okorocha of the APC had to correct that impression. However, the orchestrators were not done just yet.
A few days later, the INEC chairman, Attahiru Jega called a meeting of all political parties and gave a press briefing thereafter telling Nigerians that despite their readiness, the service chiefs had written him formally to say they would not be available to provide the needed security for the elections for the next six weeks. He was forced to change the election dates. President Jonathan tried unsuccessfully to explain away the arm-twisting that happened. He said the security chiefs had just received new equipment to fight Boko Haram and that there was tension in the land, which made them write Jega. 
What he could not explain was why the chiefs, who must have placed the order for procuring the equipment earlier, did not know when the equipment would arrive and why they initially said they were ready before eating their own words. Falsehood always gives itself away through inconsistencies and doublespeak. It is just as Allah said in Surah Al-Anbiyaa: 18, “Nay, We hurl the Truth against falsehood, and it knocks out its brain, and behold, falsehood doth perish!”
Nevertheless, if there is something positive coming out of the date change, it is that our security chiefs have suddenly found impetus to regain Nigeria’s lost territories and to fight Shekau and his monsters. President Jonathan said Nigerians would see a change in the fight against Boko Haram now that our neighbouring countries have joined the fight. That is strange news indeed.
Since Shekau started his madness, Niger, Cameroun and Chad have been fighting Boko Haram within their own territories. They have recorded better success than the Nigerian troops in many instances. Last year, Nigerian soldiers fled from Boko Haram into Cameroun where the Gendarmes promptly disarmed them and gave them shelter in a school before repatriating them to Nigeria. Of course, our military spokesperson said the boys did not flee; they were having a ‘tactical manoeuvre’. Indeed! Pray tell how you manoeuvred into another country? Nigerians must come across as extremely stupid to these people, or else they would not tell us such daring lies.
Our president went on to condemn politicians who are instigating young adults to attack him; not exactly mentioning anyone but insinuating that they were from the opposition parties. The problem with that is the fact that since the political parties signed a Peace Accord in Abuja, no one has done more to destroy that pact than the president’s supporters and men. 
Barely two days after the pact, a Rivers State campaign office of the APC was bombed. After this, some angry young men burnt a PDP bus in Kaduna. If not for the prevalence of smart phones with video cameras, people would have assumed that APC members or supporters did the burning. It became known that the burnt bus was because of a disagreement over the sharing of money among PDP youth members.
After that, the president was stoned in Bauchi. It was none other than the PDP governor of the state, Isa Yuguda that told the world on BBC Hausa service that fellow PDP members organised the stoning to embarrass him as host to the president. Following this false flag operation of the President’s men, Musiliu Obanikoro issued a statement condemning the stoning of General Buhari in Lagos.  It was amusing to read that the APC denied any such stoning. The cat was let out of the bag when the ‘boys’ hired to stone Buhari did not deliver. They said the crowd around the general was too large to pull off that kind of stunt. 
Before that, there was the infantile front-page advert by Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State. He barely stopped short of saying Buhari would die soon. That is not just an unintelligent thing to do; it is also a cruel and mean way to play politics. His fellow PDP members have since chided him for it, but not the president, in whose name he took out that advertorial.
Then there was the historical fiction documentary, which was called The Real Buhari. In it, the president’s men went as far as to mock the death of Buhari’s daughter. It was a sharp departure from all known moral values of decency, decorum and circumspection. This is apart from the sheer amount of complete lies, deliberate inaccuracies and half-truths they embedded in the video. Their target was obviously the gullible and the young; those who were not old enough to remember the Buhari years in government or who were not even born at the time.
The APC supporters in Borno have also been as rash and barbaric as other political party supporters. There have been media reports of the wanton destruction of property at a PDP campaign office in the state.
The APC in Rivers State has also been spiteful, refusing to give approval for the use of the stadium for Dr Jonathan’s campaign. The president’s men used the military to force the use of the venue. This is while the First Lady was telling the world that she would prevent APC from campaigning in Okrika, her hometown. It was no ordinary threat, as recent events have shown. 
On Tuesday, 17th February 2015, right before our eyes on television, gunmen attacked the campaign crowd of Dakuku Peterside, the APC governorship candidate in Rivers State. The level to which some of our politicians have sunk is indescribable. It beggars belief. 
When the panel of journalists asked the president whether he has confidence in Jega and whether he has plans to remove him from office as Nigerians have been speculating, his answer embarrassed me as a Nigerian. He said he wished it were a ‘twin interview’ with Jega beside him so that Professor Jega could answer the question himself. I did not know what to think when he said that. You are asked about the state of your mind regarding another person and your answer is to wish that the person would answer the question. I have filed a piece of information in my head since that poor performance; never take it for granted that a PhD is the same as a sharp mind. 
At last, he said he did not tell anyone he wanted to remove Jega and that he would have removed him if he found him wanting in his duties. I am not going to comment on the illusion under which the president stated that he could remove Jega if he wanted to. Let us examine the facts on Jega’s purported removal. 
The president’s political father, Edwin Clark, has repeatedly called for the removal of the INEC Chairman. If the president insists that Clark was on his own and a mere political appendage, what does he have to say about his own Presidential Campaign spokesperson, Femi Fani-Kayode? He has held several press conferences to allege that Jega was unfit to run the INEC and that he is biased and should be removed. 
Unless the president is telling us that he is not in charge of anything happening in his name or around him, he must have seen, heard, or read those comments. He has neither refuted nor condemned them. It smacks of a man who prefers others to do his dirty jobs for him while appearing to be aloof and above it all.
It is galling to hear the president say that he does not know 80 per cent of those issuing statements in his name and disparaging his opponents when the evidence shows they are his men. The responsible thing to do would have been to issue disclaimers and refute what he does not approve of. Silence while atrocities are committed in your name means consent, Mr President.



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